Entrepeneurship: the worst job you have ever done?

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“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson, Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship lays a strong foundation for the socio-economic growth for any country and this is one of the primary reasons for the strong developing economy of India. On the verge of launching my own venture entrepreneurship is something that is very close to me personally. Like me, many young leaders who want to start a business of their own or are just inquisitive about entrepreneurship are often skeptical of taking the first step. So I thought it’s apt for me to interview one of my childhood friends, Aakrit Vaish, who has worked in a start-up and is also a mentor and venture capitalist to early stage start-up companies. This Young Leader Story is meant to give an insight into the exciting world of entrepreneurship.

At a young age of 25 you have done quite few things – give me a brief about your journey till date.

I did my undergraduation from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Industrial engineering and minor in business administration. Post graduation I moved to San Francisco to work with Deloitte consulting. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs I very quickly realized that my natural inclination was towards entrepreneurship and start-up ventures. So I quit Deloitte to join a then startup called  Flurry Inc – a mobile advertising and mobile application analytics company – and followed my heart. When I joined Flurry Inc we were only 10 employees and in a short span of two years have grown to strong team of 85 employees. With a booming Indian mobile market it was a given for me to come back to India where I set up and started operations of Flurry Inc India as the Director of operations. Also, on the side I also mentor and invest in early stage start-up companies.

How would you view the entrepreneur community in India?

The entrepreneur community in India is still in the nascent stage. A comprehensive ecosystem of mentors, advisors and network is still developing unlike the Silicon Valley. Another major drawback in India is the mindset “my idea will be stolen if I share it with others”. What entrepreneurs fail to understand is that sharing helps get a fresh outside perspective on business, helps build a strong network and like I truly believe “If the idea is yours no one else can copy it”.

What are the three most important things that an entrepreneur should keep in mind while starting out?

Build a strong business – a lot of companies make the mistake that from the word go run after valuation and money. That’s fundamentally wrong. Be passionate about the work your doing, ensure strong cash flow and profits, build a strong company and everything else will follow.

Build a strong team – If you’re the CEO of your company you should ideally spend 30 – 40% of time hiring the correct people for the job and building a strong team. A strong team has often lead to unimaginative success and I reckon you should continue to do this till you have a strong 150 member team at least.

Don’t be afraid to share – The more you share your idea the more viewpoints you will get – no I am not asking you to adopt even one but it will open your mind to a different perspective. Also, when you share your idea and discuss it with others – who give a feedback, they feel it’s their idea too hence increase your potential customer base or well wisher community–not a bad thing, is it?

Based on your experience are there any key factors entrepreneurs should keep in mind?

I have seen people who try to start a business on their own but in a short time go back to a stable job. Entrepreneurship would probably be the worst job that you have ever done. I would not be surprised if entrepreneurs at the end of every week ask themselves “what the hell am I doing” – but to build something you have to get past it. Hence, my advice would be, be very certain about what you want to achieve and only if you have the risk taking capacity jump into it.

Another angle that most of the entrepreneurs do not keep in mind is the legal and accounting aspect. These angles definitely might pinch the pockets but at the end its all worth it. Imagine this – would you spend money on copywriting your product or would you have some other company copy it?

During the initial phase entrepreneurs spend a lot of time at work. It’s almost like a mandate isn’t it?

Well ya, in the beginning entrepreneurs have a lot of work that they need to get around however it’s not a mandate to work for long hours. Be productive and make each second and minute you spend in the office count.

Is there a typical characteristic of an entrepreneur? Can anyone be an entrepreneur?

The answer to this question is intertwined. Firstly not everyone can be an entrepreneur as one set of prefer a stable life or other set almost enjoy uncertainty. Secondly an entrepreneur is someone who has an enormous risk taking capacity, is able to put inordinate numbers of hours following a passion without seeing immediate monetary benefits and is a strong leader – whatever his/her style of management but should be able to lead a team irrespective of whether the employee is younger or older than him/her.

What’s your definition of a successful company?

Well in this I my thoughts are a little conventional – the bigger the company in terms of revenue or turnover the more successful the company. I definitely base the success of a company on the monetary growth of a company. I don’t know how else you measure “success”.

Anything else that you want to add..

One of the key things that I have realized is that the key to be successful as an entrepreneur is to be passionate about your products or services that you offer, you cannot be in it for the money. That is a byproduct of your hard work and one you’re ultimately measured on. If you’re only doing it to make money, forget about it.

This is a post written by Deep Mehta. He very much welcomes your thoughts on the subject. You can share them below!

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